Young People Facing Challenges Need Schools & Services to Work Together to Support and Nurture Them as They Build Their Futures

This piece is featured in the 1/24 The 74 Newsletter 

When I first saw West Side Story, one moment brought me back to my high school principal’s office. The Jets were singing, “We ain’t no delinquents, we’re misunderstood. Deep down inside us there is good!”

I could have said the same thing when my principal was suspending me for truancy. He told me I would never amount to anything.

But he never understood why I missed school. I had to be at home to care for my younger brothers when my mother was hospitalized for her lifelong mental illness and my father was working at his job in construction.

And in the same way the Jets sang about Officer Krupke behind his back, I could never tell my principal that to his face.

While a lot has changed since Stephen Sondheim wrote those lyrics almost 60 years ago, too often police, school officials and even professionals dedicated to serving young people don’t understand that most teenagers are trying to be their best selves even under the most trying circumstances.

Read more on The 74.